German President Resigns Over Military Comment

German President Horst Kohler has resigned in a move that caught everyone but himself by surprise. Kohler announced his immediate resignation at a press conference on Monday, citing criticisms about a comment he made on Germany’s military deployment abroad as reason.

The resignation of Kohler, an ally of the ruling administration, comes at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a barrage of criticism for Germany’s bailout of Greece and other members of the Eurozone. Kohler came under fire after he indicated in an interview with a German radio two weeks ago that protection of the country’s economy is somehow behind Germany’s military deployment abroad. Germany’s current constitution only allows the country to use its military to defend its territory and as part of international humanitarian contingents like the United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Kohler’s move was a big surprise for most political observers as the president is one of the most popular politicians in the country. His resignation comes a year into his second term. He first took the presidency in 2004 with the support of Merkel and was re-elected on May 23 last year. Jens Bohrnsen, the current head of the upper house of Parliament, will temporarily take over as Kohler’s replacement.